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Helpful' schoolboy among 3 killed by police


■ Susan Mohammed

KRISTON COOPER, 17, a Form Five pupil of the Mayaro Secondary School, has been identified as the third person who was fatally shot by police officers in Mayaro on Sunday night.

Cooper, of Guayaguayare, was with his friends Antonio St Rose, also known as 'Matta', aged 21, of Bel Air Road in Mayaro, and Zackary Gilbert, also known as 'Kori', aged 19, of Mischier Road, Mayaro, when they were killed by police officers responding to a robbery of a KFC delivery driver at Mischier Road.

Principal of Mayaro Secondary School, Roger Morales, said yesterday that staff and pupils are mourning the teenager's death, and that counsellors and social workers were at the school to offer their services.

The fatal shooting of the three men occurred in a walkway at the side of a beach-front property on Church Road, less than a kilometre from Mischier Road where four men had earlier robbed a KFC delivery driver of a meal, $80 and a cell phone.

A 41-year-old fast food delivery driver was in his vehicle around 8.45 p.m. on Sunday when he was approached by a man posing as a customer.

Three other men, armed with a firearm, cutlass and a knife, also approached the vehicle and announced a robbery.

The men robbed the driver of a quantity of cash, a cell phone and food.

Officers of the Mayaro Police Station responded to the report and confronted the four suspects who shot at them, police said.

The officers returned fire in the direction of the men.

Three of the suspects were hit while the fourth escaped.

Police said St Rose was released from jail last year after serving a three-year term for armed robbery, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition.

Peer pressure

Speaking about Kriston, principal Morales recalled that he was not a troublemaker, but was easily influenced by his peers.

Morales said, 'Kriston never gave a lot of trouble. I do not have his records in front of me but he did not have a lot of suspensions and things like that. He was the type of person who was very helpful but very influenced by peer pressure and by friends. This is one of those unfortunate situations where he may have gotten carried away with persons who influenced him at that moment.'

The school principal said Kriston was pursuing five subjects at school, one of which was of a technical/vocational one.

'I think he played basketball but we did not get a lot of time as the term had just started off. As the term went along he may have been more active. The last time he was in school was maybe the week before the incident. He was a normal student. But this school has a high amount of absenteeism,' admitted Morales. 'At school assembly we spoke of (the incident). We offered condolences and did a moment's silence. We spoke to the students to try to keep away from those who can easily influence them. They may think at the time it is something exciting and not understand the full ramifications of the dangers involved, peer pressure and all of that,' he said.

Of Gilbert, who was a recent graduate of Mayaro Secondary School, Morales said he was 'one of the more difficult ones'.

'The deans and senior teachers were always talking to him. He was self-willed and prone to having his own way,' he said.

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